One hundred years on - A Rotary Luncheon for the Old Timers, December 28, 1920

based on notes provided by Kathleen Rogers, 2012 SAPD President

The Calgary Rotary Club, chartered in 1914, regularly held a Tuesday noon luncheon meeting at the Palliser Hotel. On one particular Tuesday, December 28, 1920 the Rotary Club turned this weekly luncheon into a special occasion. Every member was to bring as a guest of honour, an old timer resident who had lived in Calgary or the district for thirty years or more. It was seen as a reunion of veterans, a chance to renew old friendships and an opportunity to perpetuate and revive the Old-Timers Association that had been established earlier in the century, but dropped shortly after the outbreak of the first world war.

The usually modest reception grew into one of the biggest public affairs of any kind ever held in the province at the time, with about 400 members and guests filling the Ball Room to capacity and the usual hour and a half luncheon extended into an informal reception and afternoon concert which showed no signs of ending by 4:30, with the last guest not leaving much before dinner time.

Arrangements were made with the Palliser to take over the Sun Room immediately after the lunch. Short talks and songs by the Rotarian choir were followed by the guests furnishing the entertainment. One of the features of the gathering was the passing of cards for the Rotary Club on which each of the Old Timers was asked his name, address, present occupation, date of arrival in Alberta, occupation followed, place where they came from, how they came, were you ever broke, and how often, what was the coldest weather in their experience, if their faith in Alberta was as great as ever, and other kindred questions. The reading of the answers to these questions evoked storms of applause, laughter and cheers.

It was Rotarian and Old Timer, Malcolm MacInnes who brought matters to a head during the afternoon when he made a motion that a committee be appointed to discuss and formulate plans for an Old-Timers organization. The Rotarian president, Bill Marshall, promised to cooperate in every way possible in forming the Old-Timers association and a committee composed of five old-timers was appointed to form plans. The committee consisted of Harold William Riley (Chairman), Colonel James Walker, David McDougall, Malcolm MacInnes, Edward Herbert Maunsell, and Dr. Michael Copps Costello. It was this group that later met in the Board of Trade rooms on January 13th, 1921.


The Calgary Herald Archive Online (1883-2010)
The Calgary Daily Herald, Tuesday, December 28, 1920 pgs.1,9-10
The Calgary Daily Herald, Wednesday, December 29, 1920 pgs.6,8

James A. Mackie's article "History of the Society" in Pioneer Families of Southern Alberta, 1993, pgs. 219-221